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Thoughts on Everquest Next Landmark Alpha Phase I
Thoughts about the Future
It may seem odd to start with the future first, but the coolest thing about the game is seeing where it can go and how cool it can be. I've been part of 100 player Minecraft servers with what they bring to the table and it can be a lot of fun. For those of you who think that Minecraft can't have serious competition among players, you've never seen the intense piston traps that send players to their ultimate doom. You've never played the game with my best friend, the guy who likes to play with lava. This game promises to have all that and more in a beautiful 3D world.
Phase 2 of the roadmap will introduce key features such as simple combat and death, although PVP is off in some further future phase. It will also introduce the odd SOEmote system, which is one of the weirder things I've seen recently. If you're a person that wants a complete Mincraft type of experience, phase 2 is when you'll want to jump on board this ship.
As I've been playing this game and mining ore from the ground a very important thought occured to me. The ground goes down when you mine and sometimes it's hard to get out of the hole you dug yourself into. Will EQNL be a game that defeats botting? There's a fair amount of resource gathering necessary for building and I'd imagine bots will start to crop up. And then get stuck in their own mining holes. I have to admit that I like the idea and maybe more games should incorporate the terrain changing parts of EQNL. After all, bots depend on a consistent environment and if the environment changes they'll likely get all sorts of messed up. I'm very interested to see how this works out. Difficulty with botting may mean a more robust economy for this game.
The most impressive part of the game is currently mining. Honestly, I dig a hole and it naturally looks like a hole. All sorts of circular and stuff. Kind of like it would look if I really dug a hole in my back yard. I don't know who designed this, but based on how polygons tend to be triangular in games it had to have been hard. Kudos to the people that made digging work and feel good. Note that the current version only has surface digging and the system works well for surface digging. They may have to have faster picks for underearth digging however because it'll be a lot more digging and I can see the current digging speed dragging people down for long digs under the ground.
Digging and tree chopping are the two resource activities you can do in alpha phase I. I didn't mind mining at all since there's a lot of variety in the ores. Tree chopping is currently over-represented in the resource gathering as there are only a couple of types of trees. I hope that SOE is going to expand on tree chopping soon, or I will slowly go crazy chopping Burled Wood. The video below really sums up how I feel about it.
Once you gather materials, you start to build. Right now we're allowed one claim each. It's decently sized, although for those that want to dig way down deep or go very high in the air it'll seem confining. You can also make friends and put your building claims together to try and make a castle. The most recent videos of EQNL show all sorts of fancy buildings, but the majority of claims have very little built on them because people don't want to build and potentially have their stuff wiped. The following video gives a good view of travel distance (which will be reduced when more teleportation is put into the game) and what can be built.
What Needs Work
The game sometimes crashes and there have been issues where things don't get saved correctly. These are the growing pains of a new game. The minimum system specs are really too high for a game in competition with other mmo type games that require a lot less resources and have a lot more action. This game also potentially competes with games like Minecraft where the minimum spec is much, much lower. For a comparison of mmo games being developed at the moment, the TESO minimum spec is:
- Operating System: Windows XP 32-bit
- Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent processor
- Memory: 2GB System RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 60GB free HDD space
- Video Card: DirectX 9.0 compliant video card with 512MB of RAM (NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 / ATI Radeon™ 2600 or better)
- Sound: DirectX compatible sound card
- CPU: Intel Pentium Core2 Duo 2.4 GHz, AMD Phenom X3 2.3 GHz, or better
- RAM: 4GB
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT, ATI Radeon HD 3850, or better
- Operating Systems: Windows XP SP2 (64-bit) or later. 32-bit systems are not supported during beta
- OS – Windows 7 64 bit
- Processor – Intel i5 Quad Core or higher / AMD Phenom II X4 or higher
- Memory – 4GB RAM
- Hard Drive – 20GB Free
- Video Memory – 1,024 MB RAM
- Video Card – nVidia GeForce GTX 275 series or higher / AMD HD 4890 or higher
- Sound Card – DirectX compatible
- Internet – Broadband (3Mbit/sec or higher)
I still had fun building. The core features of mining and building are fun and I've spent hours at this point doing both. Here's to hoping that the future feature expansions take this from a building toy to a more complete experience.